Thursday, August 21, 2014

Profiles of Successful eBay Pickers - Nicole Bilbao

Welcome to another installment of "Profiles of Successful eBay Pickers." eBay is getting a lot of bad press lately about not being a sustainable business, losing traction as a trusted marketplace, or being inferior to Amazon. I reached out to sellers on my eBay seller Facebook group, which is now approaching 16,000 members, to find sellers who have a proven track record of selling on eBay and maintaining a sustainable eBay business over time.

My hope is that we can see similar characteristics across these profiles and define the qualities of a successful seller, then work to achieve those qualities and reach success.

The criteria I set for participating in this series:

1. Full time eBay seller for at least 3 years. (To show sustainability.)

2. Does not sell on Amazon. (Because they were doing so well on eBay, they didn't need to go to another platform.)

3. Sells inventory purchased at thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, auctions, consignment sales or any combination of those sources. Does not purchase inventory wholesale, from liquidators, retail stores, from China, or drop ship. Must be a "picker."

4. Is an "at home" seller.

5. Must be willing to share eBay ID. (Keeping it real.)

Today's star picker is Nicole Bilbao.

When did you start selling on eBay?

November 2003

Why did you start selling on eBay? 

I began selling a childhood doll collection for "extra" money as a stay at home Mom.

What is your store name, and what types of items do you sell?

Cuteatanyage I sell mostly clothing, current and vintag.

Do you specialize in a certain niche, or are you open to selling anything?

I specialize in clothing, but I love to diversify and find new niches.  I enjoy studying Terapeak and watching the items that my competitors have success with and try them myself.  If it doesn’t work for me, I move on to other things. 

If you specialize in a certain niche, why?

Clothing accounts for the bulk of my sales.  Clothing is easy to find at low prices at thrift stores, it's easy to ship, and more importantly, it is fun!  Within clothing there are smaller "little niches” that I have had success with.  Most of these little niches change and evolve, so what might sell well today, may not sell as well the following year.

Today, I am in the top 10 sellers of modest, blue jean skirts. Many other sellers are also selling these skirts now.  Supply has gone way up, forcing demand down.  As a result, I am developing other new "little niches" within the clothing category.  You have to stay current and keep evolving. How do I do this?  By studying Terapeak and Facebook groups, (such as Stay at Home Moms Selling on eBay), and by taking a few small risks here and there. 
 **(Got the top 10 stat from Terapeak )

How many items do you typically have in your store?

Approximately 350

What is your average monthly profit? 
 (Not sales, but profit. We want to show how much money eBay sellers can actually keep.)

Average monthly profit is enough to pay my monthly mortgage.

How many hours do you typically work a week on your eBay business?

I don't have a set schedule. The best part of about my eBay business is the ability to take off when I need to. In other words, the best part of my schedule is having no set schedule. If I had to arrive at a number I would say 5-6 hours a day.  I work longer hours from September to January.

Many eBay sellers are being shamed into selling on Amazon, as if it is a superior platform. Why have you never sold on Amazon?

I've considered it, I would love for my inventory to take up space in an Amazon warehouse and not take over 2 rooms in my house!  I believe the reason that I've never tried it is that I love the creativity of listing on eBay.  I can look at an item in a thrift store and start thinking about keywords and the person that is out there that would love to find that particular piece.  I truly enjoy the listing process.

4th quarter can be a lucrative time of year for many online sellers. Have you typically seen an increase in sales during 4th quarter in past years?

The 4th quarter accounts for about 26% of my annual business.

Do you sell anything different for holiday selling season, or just sell more of the same kinds of things you normally sell all year?

Yes, I sell a few computer items, electronics and toys during the holiday season. I also sell ugly Christmas sweaters in the fourth quarter.  I started selling them about 2 years ago and now I have built up a little inventory and I sell them all during the year.

 **During the months of April through August 1, I am the #1 seller of Ugly Christmas Sweaters, now I don’t know if this will hold through the 4th quarter, but I’m excited to be #1 in the warmer months. Again, I got this stat from Terapeak

Do you list more items in anticipation of holiday sales? If so, when do you start this process?

Yes, I start in the summer and I try to list as many items as I can, and I always on the look out for items to sell that are Christmas gift oriented.

Do you have any hired help for your business? If so, what tasks do they do?

No, but I am seriously considering it for this fall.  That's my next step.

What is one piece of advice you would give to new sellers who want to transition to eBay full time?

If you are a "stay at home mom selling on eBay" as I am, you can build your business over time. I started selling when my boys were little; I listed while they were napping or after my husband got home from work. Now, my boys are in high school and middle school, and I have more time to devote to selling.  I've built my business slowly and kept up to date on eBay changes. Ebay selling practices change often and many of the items that sell well change from year to year.  Keep selling and keep listing, slow and steady. You can own your own business that provides your family a little extra fun money and build it, over time into a business that can pay your mortgage.

Anything else unique about you or your eBay business you would like to share?

Thrifting never gets old for me, if you feel the same way, your business is fun for you and you rarely feel like you are "working".  10 years later I still feel a thrill when I hear that ca ching on my phone.  I can't believe some would pay me money for an item that I thought was cute in the thrift store.  I don't always have a Pollyanna attitude however.  I hate taking photos!  I know that it is one of the most important parts of listing an item, so I just try to get through it as efficiently as possible.

Thanks for sharing, Nicole!

Read about more eBay pickers:

Michelle Farmer

Antique Chic

Kathy Bradley

David and Rhonda Conner

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